Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is one of the fastest-growing marketing channels in the UK, and one that generated a total spend of more than £500 million in 2019.
DOOH ad spending regularly experiences double-digit growth in the UK, as marketers look to leverage the eye-catching nature of this medium and its ability to deliver increasingly creative messaging.
There’s no doubt that DOOH ads are incredibly effective, but what are the best examples within this medium?
We’ve outlined some of the best examples of all-time!
Are DOOH Ads Effective?
According to evidence collated by Statista, DOOH reaches approximately 85% of the UK population, suggesting that this is an effective medium for optimising exposure and building brand awareness.
Previous studies have suggested that wider OOH media (which includes both traditional and digital content) reaches up to 98% of potential customers every week, highlighting the immense reach of this medium and its ability to engage mass target audiences.
If we break this down further, we see that some 92% of the UK population see bus shelter ads and train station posters every single week, while such material encourages people to engage with the content in a natural and organic way.
This is because OOH and DOOH content melds seamlessly into the surrounding environment while customers go about their daily business, whereas online and digital ads can be intrusive and far less effective at engaging readers.
The ability to target specific and strategic locations through DOOH can also help small and local businesses target their customers more effectively.
In fact, this advertising medium enables local firms to aim exclusive and limited-time promotions at a targeted audience, while ensuring that they tailor their messaging to suit the relevant demographics.
Even on a fundamental level, out-of-home advertising provides an accessible way through which SMEs can target customers as they go about their daily business, whether they’re commuting to work (by car or public transport) or visiting local retail parks and centres.
What Are the Best Digital Billboard Ads from Across the Globe?
Now that we understand the efficacy of DOOH, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best digital billboard ads and how they’ve been executed by marketers. These include:
LookUp for British Airways
We’ll start with British Airways’ ‘LookUp’ campaign, which saw the airline erect billboards in Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick in the heart of London.
This interactive ad was unique in that it responded to target BA planes as they flew overhead, using advanced GPS and sensor technology to achieve this objective.
When a target plane was detected flying overhead (and visible to passing traffic below), the animated billboard displayed a small child standing up, running and pointing up at the sky.
The screen then relayed updated flight details, along with a ‘ba.com/lookup’ URL that served as a concise call-to-action that directed customers online.
This was important, as it introduced an element of functionality to a largely creative ad and established a viable channel through which passers by could be converted into paying customers.
To realise this superb creative, BA worked with the agency Ogilvy 112th Floor, who created custom-fit billboards with in-built surveillance technologies to detect specific British Airways flights and distinguish them from other planes.
RoadAds Geo-Targeted Truck Billboards
Next up is another exceptionally innovative offering from RoadAds, which developed a mobile truck campaign that utilised high-tech displays and GPS technology to create flexible messaging that adapted to different locations.
The displays in question were mounted on trucks and comprised e-ink screens, while geotargeting was used to load multiple messages that would be displayed depending on the precise location of the truck in real-time.
This simple but effective premise was superbly executed, with the precise content displayed selected according to the local information drawn from GPS and Internet connectivity modules.
Because of this innovative approach, the advertiser could market specific products and services depending on their real-time audience, increasing the efficacy of their campaigns and optimising the value they receive for their marketing spend.
Look At Me by WCRS for Women’s Aid
Not all the billboard campaigns on our list are commercial in nature, as we can see through the highly emotive and thought-provoking ‘Look at Me’ campaign from Women’s Aid.
Back in 2014, more than 320 million people saw this ground-breaking campaign in action, with this creative aiming to demonstrate how important it is for people to offer support to those who are experiencing domestic abuse and avoid turning a blind eye to actions that physically or emotionally harm others.
But how did these interactive DOOH displays work? Well, they were erected at large shopping centres nationwide, and allowed passing traffic to ‘heal’ an abused women simply by looking at her.
The screens initially portrayed a woman who appeared beaten and bruised. However, when passers-by stopped to look and noticed the content, she would suddenly start to heal.
Interestingly, the extent of her visible recovery would depend on how long people looked for, highlighting the importance of recognising abuse and stepping in on behalf of others where possible.
Utilising the latest facial-recognition technology and cameras that could detect when someone was looking towards the screen and trigger the interaction, this ad was highly emotive and empowering to those who saw it.
It also highlighted how DOOH technology can be used to effectively share a broad range of messages effectively, even outside of selling goods, services and positive experiences.
‘Coke-Moji’ Face Recognition Ads for Coca-Cola
On the subject of facial recognition technology, this innovation has enjoyed exponential growth and adoption across a wide range of applications.
While it’s most synonymous with biometrics and device security, we’ve already seen how it continues to impact marketing and play a pivotal role in eye-catching DOO campaigns from the biggest brands.
This includes Coca-Cola, whose ‘Coke-Moji’ campaign integrated facial recognition technology and emojis to create the ultimate level of interaction between customers and the screens in different locations.
Initially rolled out in Stockholm, Sweden, one such ad as a subway station enabled passers-by to determine which emotions and emojis should be displayed on the display.
This was done using facial recognition and sensor-driven cameras, which captured the real-time expressions of individuals and mimicked these on-screen.
This fun and highly creative campaign was also tied together neatly with the uplifting “Choose Happiness” tagline, which was itself an extension of Coca-Cola’s multi-channel #MakeItHappy initiative (which also ensured that the ad generated significant traction on social media).
‘Isobar Sweden’ is the ad agency behind the content, while ‘Coke-Moji’ remains one of the best examples of DOOH ads and their innate creativity.
It’s also an embodiment of how such ads are likely to evolve and change in the near-term, as facial recognition continues to become increasingly accessible nationwide.
‘Oreo Eclipse’ for Oreo
Who doesn’t like Oreos? This delicious biscuit treat is both tasty and iconic, while it also stands out from many of its rivals as a truly eye-catching and creative product.
Because of this, it requires innovative and inventive advertising vehicles, with the ‘Oreo Eclipse’ DOOH campaign offering a relevant case in point.
This billboard ad showcased the stunning contrast between the product’s black biscuits and creamy white filling, while leveraging this and the classic Oreo silhouette to create the illusion of an eclipse on the display.
Even more impressively, this ad was timed to coincide with a forecast solar eclipse in the UK, which was expected to occur in March 2015.
Suspecting that the UK’s notoriously cloudy and miserable weather would impede visibility of the eclipse, Oreo created their own image of a single black cookie moving slowly across the circular white filling on-screen.
This creative but simple campaign not only managed to leverage the latest technology and a topical narrative, but it also put an iconic product at the heart of its content and enabled this to do much of the talking.
So, it provides a lesson and template for other advertisers to follow going forward.
The ‘Rising Egg McMuffin’ by Cossette for McDonalds
More than a decade ago, McDonald’s (which remains one of the UK’s most creative advertising brands) introduced its famous, Grand Clio-winning sundial billboard which utilised the sun’s shadow to suggest what you should be eating and drinking at specific times of the day.
Then came a DOOH sequel in the form of the ‘Rising Egg McMuffin’, which debuted in Canada and was created by Cossette in Vancouver.
In simple terms, this simple and animated ad sees a mouth-watering Egg McMuffin rise up and into view each morning, mimicking the rising sun and being timed to coincide with the actual sunrise each day.
The ad started out life as an entry into an out-of-home competition called ‘Carte Blanche’, in which creatives propose ideas for corporeal clients and the winning team earns a trip to Cannes.
The winning client earns a cool $50,000 worth of free media space in the city, although we’re not convinced that McDonalds needed the cash!
However, the ad was subsequently executed for real having won the competition, reaffirming McDonalds’ reputation as one of the best and most innovative marketers in the world.
The Last Word
So, there you have it; a selection of some of the best, most creative and inspirational DOOH ads from across the globe.
Make no mistake; these campaigns represent true trailblazers in the marketing realm but there is no doubt that they will influence a growing number of advertisers as digital ads claim an ever-increasing share of the OOH market.
Because of this, we’re likely to see a much larger number of iconic DOOH ads in the years to come, and we may even have to update this page with new examples in the future!